The notion of embarking on a career change often creates a blend of excitement and trepidation. Whether you are leaving your career as a result of burnout or simply because it is no longer fulfilling, taking the risk comes with mixed emotions.

It’s only natural that such feelings raise concern regarding whether one is taking the right risk. On this matter, Louise Ellul, an emerging Workplace Performance Strategist and Founder, tells MaltaCEOs.mt that “a life without risks has no growth.”

“Every time one makes a choice, they are taking a risk. What makes a difference is whether that risk is calculated or not,” she says.

Discussing career changes with MaltaCEOs.mt, Ms Ellul emphasises the importance of thoughtful consideration in risk-taking.

Louise Ellul

She says that what distinguishes a well-managed risk from a poorly managed one is the level of careful thought applied. Without careful consideration, “individuals might find themselves diving into unknown waters without a clear understanding of the potential outcomes.”

Conversely, calculated risks enable individuals to master their approach towards new goals, maximising opportunities for growth and development.

Illustrating this point, Ms Ellul highlights that a person in this situation should be able to pose themselves some critical questions. What skills do they possess that align with their new career goal? What are the skills that they need to acquire to be able to perform? And how many years will it take to achieve that goal?

“Let’s stop looking at risk like a big black cloud that will pour onto us and instead start dissecting it into goals, transforming them into manageable actions that will lead them onto the right track for growth and success,” she comments.

Challenging the old mentality

Societal perceptions of job satisfaction have evolved throughout the years. In today’s age, many are more attuned to red flags in their careers that prompt reflection and consideration of change.

Ms Ellul recalls that, growing up, many enforced the idea of having a good job. However, she adds, at the time a good job meant having a high and stable income and not one that prioritises passion and satisfaction.

“I’ve come across many people who believe that jobs shouldn’t necessarily be pursued for passion, but rather as a means to pay bills. Back then, the advice I received was to take whatever opportunities came my way,” she states.

However, she believes that a job should provide a level of personal connection and satisfaction through intrinsic motivation rather than extrinsic motivation.

She highlights that it is important to distinguish between these two types of motivation. Extrinsic motivation refers to the drive to perform tasks or achieve goals based on external rewards such as getting a higher salary or a bonus.

While it can be effective in driving short-term performance and compliance, it may not foster long-term engagement in work.

She emphasises that a person who is not longer passionate about their present career might be experiencing extrinsic motivation and while more money might encourage them to stay put temporarily, it is intrinsic motivation which will fulfil them. Intrinsic embodies describes the inner drive and eagerness we possess to wholeheartedly engage with and accomplish a task simply because we find it inherently enjoyable or interesting. It is the joy of doing something because it gives you pleasure in itself.

In a previous interview with MaltaCEOs.mt, Ms Ellul delved deeper into the roots of burnout and how this might drive an employee to go for a career overhaul.

“Organisations share with me how challenging employee retention has become, leading to a surge in sick leave and a notable increase in employee turnover. Some individuals even opt to return to their previous roles after experiencing the heightened stress levels prevalent in other organisations,” she adds.

She attributes these consequences to the approach many organisations take when employing individuals: Looking for a ‘jack of all trades’. She explains that when a person finds themselves overwhelmed by the demands of their job and are stretched too thinly across various tasks and obligations, it will stifle their energy and enthusiasm.

Additionally, individuals might struggle to tap into their intrinsic motivation.

She states that employees should be given opportunities to explore their potential within their careers. This is crucial in fostering intrinsic motivation and facilitating meaningful career transitions.

Ultimately, she adds that based on research findings, those fuelled by extrinsic motivation tend to do the bare minimum to meet demands whilst an intrinsically motivated employee would exceed them, working with passion and drive, which will ultimately drive the organisation to higher levels. 

Appealing to organisations, Ms Ellul says that it is important for them to not only acknowledge the intrinsic motivations of their employees “but also to actively cultivate environments that nurtures and amplify them.”

“This approach not only empowers employees to pursue meaningful career transitions but also propels the organisation to greater heights of success and innovation,” Ms Ellul concludes.

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